Editorial: New virus, same adversaries

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Just as getting behind the wheel drunk has — through public pressure and constant messaging — become less acceptable, we all must look at risky behaviours like large parties and unnecessary travel as a true threat to the welfare of our population.

The premier has indicated it may become mandatory to wear masks. Why wait for it to become mandatory? Developing this habit is a means of good citizenship, and science shows it helps contain the virus.

While it is true that a large number of recent cases involve members of communal Hutterite colonies, the rest of the population should not think that gives them a pass. As Dr. Anne Huang, who previously served as a deputy medical health officer for the province, told Postmedia Saskatchewan earlier this week, “the initial cluster in Hutterite communities has certainly spilled into the general population.”

This brings us to the second unfortunate, perennial issue that dogs our society: prejudice.

Just as some people lashed out at the Indigenous population after outbreaks in Northern Saskatchewan, the Hutterite communities are now the target of ignorant rhetoric.

Mary-Anne Kirkby, a writer who grew up as a Hutterite, has expressed dismay at what she has seen.

“Personal and media stories about Hutterites being profiled and not allowed into certain stores or being denied services in those regions of the provinces are disturbing,” she wrote last week.

COVID-19 is a new enemy for us to face down, but it comes with some familiar opponents rooted in ignorance. Wearing a mask and withholding judgement on those who test positive are simple ways to make our province a safe place to live.